Living in Hope: Mary.  The fourth week of an Advent and Christmas Retreat by Becky Eldredge
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Living With Hope Retreat
Week 4: Mary

Dear friend, 

Happy 4th week of Advent!  It's hard to believe that we are in our final week of Advent and about to enter the Christmas Season.  

This week, our companion is Jesus' mother, Mary.  To be honest, I did not fully understand Mary's significance until I became a mother nine years ago.  When our son was placed into our arms, though, everything changed.  Suddenly, the miracle of Jesus' birth and Mary's role in it made sense.  

Can you imagine holding the Messiah, and rocking God made flesh in the form of the infant?  That is an image that gives me goose-bumps when I think about it.  

Mary helps us live in hope because of her "yes" to God.  Her "yes" opened the door to God becoming flesh. From his infancy, Mary noticed something unique about her son.  Later, she called Jesus forth to perform his first miracle at the wedding of Cana.  

Mary birthed the light of the world.  As we prepare to celebrate her son's birth on Friday, I invite us to ask ourselves, "Where does God need our yes?" 

Know as you make your final preparations for Christmas and as you wait in hope this last week of Advent that I am praying for you!


In case you missed the last few weeks: 

Week 1: The Trinity
Week 2:  St. John the Baptist 
Week 3:  St. Joseph


The below Readings are from the Sunday Readings for the First Sunday of Advent.  Pick one reading each day for prayer.  Throughout the week, repeat the scriptures that capture your attention.  

If you would like to pray with the daily readings this week in addition to the Sunday readings, the USCCB posts them daily here.  

When praying with scripture, I invite you to try the prayer method of Lectio Divina.  Click here to download a guide.

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 12

Reading 1MI 5:1-4A

Thus says the LORD:
You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,
and the rest of his kindred shall return
to the children of Israel.
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock
by the strength of the LORD,
in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
and they shall remain, for now his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace.

Responsorial PsalmPS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

R. (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Reading 2HEB 10:5-10

Brothers and sisters:
When Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.’“

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings, 
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated 
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

AlleluiaLK 1:38

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 1:39-45

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah, 
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb, 
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, 
cried out in a loud voice and said, 
“Blessed are you among women, 
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me, 
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, 
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”


1.  What are you pondering in your heart right now?  What might God be inviting you to notice? 

2.  When have you leapt for joy at encountering Jesus in your world? 

3.  What is God birthing in your life right now?  Where is God inviting you to help Christ enter the world today? 

4.  Where does God need your "yes"?  How might Mary support you in having the courage to say "yes"?  

5.  How will you celebrate Jesus, the Messiah's, birth?
Putting Hope into Action:  

As a child, our Christmas Eve celebration on my dad's side was not complete until we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.  My great grandmother made a beautiful white star cake.  It was adorned with so many candles that it seemed the entire cake was on fire.  In the middle of our loud and joyful family Christmas celebration we would pause and sing "Happy Birthday to Jesus".  

This tradition continues in our own family today.  While Grandma is no longer with us, every Christmas morning we place candles on whatever breakfast item we are eating, and we sing happy birthday.  It reminds me that, even though Santa came to our house, our cause for celebration is the birth of the light of the world that occurred so many years ago in the form of baby Jesus.  

How will you celebrate Jesus' birth on Christmas day?  How might Jesus' mother, Mary, want you to celebrate her son's birthday this year?   
Copyright © 2015 Becky Eldredge, All rights reserved.

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